By Linda Bordoni
Thirty-six civilians were murdered on Monday in Burkina Faso’s Sanmatenga province when armed militants reportedly forced their way into the market of the village of Alamou.
A government statement said that first they attacked the people, and then burnt the market structure to the ground.
The bloodshed is part of a surge in violence in the West African country that has killed hundreds, forced nearly a million from their homes and made much of the north ungovernable over the past two years.
Appeals by Pope and bishops
Pope Francis and the Catholic Bishops of Burkina Faso have called for the promotion of interreligious dialogue in an attempt to protect the people and find solutions to the violence.
The government in Ouagadougou released a statement saying "These repeated attacks on innocent civilians call for real cooperation between defence and security forces."
President Roch Marc Kabore called for two days of national mourning in response to the attack.
Links to al Quaeda and IS
Although it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the massacre, Islamist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have carried out increasingly brazen attacks against civilian and military targets in Burkina Faso in recent months, including an attack on a mining convoy in November that killed nearly 40 people.
The country was once a pocket of relative calm in the Sahel region, but the recent local insurgency has been amplified by a spillover of jihadist violence and criminality from Mali on Burkina Faso’s northern border.